Nearly 100 Denver police officers will be out of work and off the streets. Monday, officers voted 60-40 to keep their contract the same, which means they are keeping their pay raise next year. As a result 91 officers will lose their jobs.
This is a decision forced by the citys $120 million budget crunch.
We do not want to take a pay reduction when we negotiated a contract when the city is still spending millions of dollars on what we consider frivolous dollars, said Vincent Gavito, president of the Police Protection Association. So I think that was the message we made (Monday) was that the management of the money needs to be reigned in before we take another pay cut.
After the votes were counted, the mayors office sent out a statement.
The police union had two choices: forego a raise next year and save officers jobs, or keep the raise and we would be left with no choice but to lay off officers, said Kelly Brough, chief of staff to Mayor John Hickenlooper. We are surprised and disappointed by the police unions decision to keep the 4.5 percent raise. We will now begin to identify how the City can minimize the impact on the number of officers on the street given that lay-offs are the remaining option.
"Ninety-one officers is a large number to take off the streets said Gavito. That is almost the size of a district station."
The Denver police force is fully staffed at 1,448 officers. Currently, there are 1,518 officers. Additional officers were hired for the Democratic National Convention.
Police Chief Gerry Whitman said he thought that number would have dropped after the DNC, due to natural attrition, but in light of the recession, people are not retiring.
However he said the department has functioned in the past with as few as 1,380 officers.
Gavito said these cuts will affect public safety.
According to city charter, the newest hires will be let go first.
Chief Whitman said he will shuffle around officers to make sure 911 calls and street patrols are not affected.
The PPA said they will work over the next four months to find another solution to the budget problems so these officers will not be laid off.
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